The kidneys and the kidney meridian

Fiona Hardie explains that there is a direct link between the kidneys and their associated kidney meridian hence reflexology can have a healing impact on the kidneys.

Did you know that the season that the kidneys are related to and during which their energy is most active is winter. And spring is that time of the year when we should be energised and have, well, a spring in our step. While winter may well be behind us, taking care of our kidney health all-year-round ensures decreased vulnerability to colds and flu, as well as an easy transition to spring without hay fever or the inevitable summer cold that often ensues.

When looking at any organ in the body, there are two perspectives that must be referenced. The Western perspective is one we are all mostly familiar with. Yet the Traditional Chinese perspective has a very different, yet effective approach from which reflexology draws a lot of inspiration .

Western perspective

From the Western perspective, the kidneys are involved in filtering toxins from the body and having them expelled through the urine.  The functions of the kidneys are remarkable:

  • These organs are tasked with recognising and separating waste materials from useful substances and determining how much of that specific substance the body needs.
  • Excess hormones, vitamins, minerals and any foreign matter, such as additives from food or drugs, are sorted and sent for elimination by the bladder.
  • Our electrolyte balance is maintained ensuring that sodium, potassium, hydrogen, magnesium, calcium and other mineral levels are in check.
  • Vitamin D is converted into a usable state while the acid-alkaline balance of the body is also modulated.
  • Not only mineral levels, but the body’s overall fluid requirements are constantly being monitored by these two bean-shaped organs.
  • Red blood cell production is stimulated by a hormone, called erythropoietin, which is produced by the kidneys.
  • On top of all that, the kidneys also have a double filtration system to filter the blood.

Traditional Chinese perspective

Looking at the above, it’s an impressive list of tasks that the kidneys perform and is clear to see why in Chinese medicine the kidneys are considered the storehouses of our “essence.” Essence is that life force which keeps us healthy, vital and youthful.

As a result, the Chinese associate weak kidney energy with premature ageing, early greying of hair, balding, loss of libido, impotence, irregular menstruation and poor willpower to name but a few symptoms of having a sluggish internal system.

Kidney meridian

Let’s face it, if our blood is stagnant and toxic, how can our organs have the energy to perform their duties? How can we have the energy to enjoy our life or produce life?

The kidneys also rule the teeth, bones and produce marrow. A close relationship exists between the kidney and the ears as is evidenced when we get a cold and our ears become blocked or infected.

The kidneys almost always feel tender when a respiratory infection is setting in. We get that achy feeling in our lower backs. In fact, many back problems are often associated with a congested kidney meridian or its partner the bladder meridian which runs up along the spine.

This brings me to kidney meridian congestions and how they present in the body from a reflexology perspective. Burning, sweating and painful soles and fungal infections are often signs of a kidney imbalance. Weak ankles, puffiness and swelling of the foot are indications of weaknesses in the kidneys and bladder. The kidney meridian runs along the inner aspect of the calf and thigh, and pains, varicose veins, knee problems in these areas often point to imbalances in these organs.

The kidney meridian then continues through the diaphragm, and the lungs and of course any lung congestions, diaphragmatic dysfunctions and breast disorders will be considered symptoms of weaknesses here.

Traditional Chinese medicine also associates emotions with the organs and where the kidneys are concerned fear and anxiety are the related emotions. Hence panic attacks, phobias, and constant anxiety are related to the kidneys. When we work on healing these emotions, the kidneys will also heal, and vice versa.

In summary

There is a direct link between the kidneys and their associated kidney meridian. Therefore with the direct focus on the meridians for which reflexology is known, it becomes clear that reflexology can have a direct impact on the kidneys.

With knowledge of kidney imbalances above, it is quite useful to know about the incredible healing effects of reflexology, as it can have a direct and immediate impact. The sense of relaxation brought about by reflexology will also assist in reducing anxiety and fear and coax the body holistically to heal.

Reflexology is best enjoyed over a series of eight to 10 treatments during which time the congestions in the meridians and their organs are cleared, bringing the body to a state of balance. And it is when in balanced harmony that the body is able to perform its functions and heal.


Reflexology – The 5 Elements and their 12 Meridians by Inge Dougans.

World Medicine – The east west guide to healing your body by Tom Mont

Images from The International School of Reflexology and Meridian Therapy and Oriental Medicine.


Fiona Hardie has owned her own Pilates studio for 18 years in Bryanston, Gauteng where she also does Bowen Therapy, Therapeutic Reflexology, Acudetox, and Bach Flower Remedies. She treats each client holistically taking into consideration their posture and physical state as well as their mental and emotional well-being. She has a special interest in natural pain management, particularly for diabetes and cancer related issues.

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